Biden tells Coast Guard Academy graduates about changing security climate

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden spoke to the graduating class of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy on Wednesday, discussing the Coast Guard's growing role in national security.

Biden spoke to nearly 300 men and women about to be commissioned in New London, Conn., about the full integration of the Coast Guard into the U.S. military. Biden said the Coast Guard is part of the complex national security of post-Cold War America.

"No graduating class gets to choose the time into which they graduate, and you're graduating into a world that is rapidly changing, from challenges and missions to changing climates," Biden said. "New stateless actors have stepped into the breach with the desire to smuggle weapons of terror into American ports in the belly of cargo containers to do our people great harm."

Biden also mentioned the high rates of human trafficking and piracy on the high seas, which pose challenges to commerce and free trade, and the need to operate icebreakers to allow ships to travel through new international shipping routes in the Arctic.

Biden praised the achievements of the Coast Guard, including dangerous service missions like helping victims of Hurricane Sandy and humanitarian missions abroad.

"Your shipmates have saved 3,650 lives last year alone, risking their lives," Biden said. "There are tens of thousands of grateful men and women and children from all parts of the world who will tell anyone who will listen that the most welcome sight they've ever seen are those racing stripes coming toward them or the sound of that orange Coast Guard helicopter above them, lowering a bucket with a man or woman inside to save their lives. In this changing world, we are going to be increasingly dependent on you."